Thursday 29 May 2008

Peter Schwartz - The Threat of Abrupt Climate Change

It is the threat of "abrupt climate change" that converted him to support new emphasis on nuclear power, Schwartz said. Gradual global warming is clearly now under way, and there is increasing reason to believe that human activity is driving it, mostly through the burning of coal and oil. If warming is all that happens, it will be an enormous problem, but some regions of the Earth would gain (Russia, Canada) while many others would lose.

In the event of abrupt climate change, though, everyone loses. The most likely change would be a sudden (in one decade) shift to a much colder, drier, and windier world. The world's carrying capacity for humans would plummet, driving human population from the current 6.5 billion to as low as 2 billion, with most of the losses from war. It would be a civilization-threatening catastrophe. From research Schwartz has led for the Pentagon as well as from his own training in fluid dynamics, he thinks that continuation of the current warming is very likely to trigger the kind of radical climate instability that has been the norm in Earth's past, except for the last 10,000 years of uncharacteristically stable climate. Therefore everything must be done to head off the shift to climate instability.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

House Of Cards - P2

A Norwegian brokerage firm said Wednesday that it would file for bankruptcy protection after losing its license because of accusations that it made four remote towns victims of subprime lending problems in the United States.

Norway's main financial regulator said the firm, Terra Securities, violated the "good code of conduct" by failing to adequately inform four towns near the Arctic Circle of possible risks related to complex investment securities that it sold them.

The four Norwegian towns — Rana, Hemnes, Hattfjelldal and Narvik — lost about 350 million kroner, or $64 million, from investments that had fallen to less than 55 percent of their original value.

The towns invested 451 million kroner in collateralized debt obligations created by Citigroup and sold by Terra Securities.

Norway's finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, said at a news conference in Oslo that the government was unlikely to bail out the towns, Bloomberg News reported.

House Of Cards - P1

What is keeping her awake are the far-reaching ripple effects of the troubled housing market in sunny Florida, California and other parts of the United States.

Ms. Kuvaas is the mayor of Narvik, a remote seaport where the season's perpetual gloom deepened even further in recent days after news that the town -- along with three other Norwegian municipalities -- had lost about $64 million, and potentially much more, in complex securities investments that went sour.

''I think about it every minute,'' Ms. Kuvaas, 60, said in an interview, her manner polite but harried. ''Because of this, we can't focus on things that matter, like schools or care for the elderly.''

Norway's unlucky towns are the latest victims -- and perhaps the least likely ones so far -- of the credit crisis that began last summer in the American subprime mortgage market and has spread to the farthest reaches of the world, causing untold losses and sowing fears about the global economy.

Where all the bad debt ended up remains something of a mystery, but to those hit by the collateral damage, it hardly matters.

Tiny specks on the map, these Norwegian towns are links in a chain of misery that stretches from insolvent homeowners in California to the state treasury of Maine, and from regional banks in Germany to the mightiest names on Wall Street. Citigroup, among the hardest hit, created the investments bought by the towns through a Norwegian broker.

For Ms. Kuvaas, being in such company is no comfort. People here are angry and scared, fearing that the losses will hurt local services like kindergartens, nursing homes and cultural institutions. With Christmas only weeks away, Narvik has already missed a payroll for municipal workers.

Above all, the residents want to know how their close-knit community of 18,000 could have mortgaged its future -- built on the revenue from a hydroelectric plant on a nearby fjord -- by dabbling in what many view as the black arts of investment bankers in distant places.

''The people in City Hall were naïve and they were manipulated,'' said Paal Droenen, who was buying fish at a market across the street from the mayor's office. ''The fund guys were telling them tales, like, 'This could happen to you.' It's a catastrophe for a small town like this.''

Now, the towns are considering legal action against the Norwegian brokerage company, Terra Securities, that sold them the investments. They allege that they were duped by Terra's brokers, who did not warn them that these types of securities were risky and subject to being cashed out, at a loss, if their market price fell below a certain level.

''When you sell something that is not what you say it is, that is a lie,'' Ms. Kuvaas said. She disputed the suggestion that people here lacked the sophistication to understand what they were buying. ''We're not especially stupid because we live so far in the north,'' she said.

Norway's financial regulator agreed that the brokers had misled the towns, and it revoked the license of Terra Securities, prompting the company to file for bankruptcy. But the company's parent, Terra Group, which is in turn owned by 78 savings banks and remains in business, rejected calls for it to compensate the towns. A spokesman for the group said it too had taken a hit from the episode.

Norway's finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, has ruled out the possibility of a state bailout, and Citigroup, which announced Thursday that it would shut down one of the money-losing investments Narvik bought, said it had no legal obligation to step in.

Where the economy is going... (by

Get a look at de-spinned reality!

Roubini still pessimistic over economy - P1

I discuss the outlook for the US economy, housing and mortgages; the prospects for policy action (the Frank-Dodd bill to provide debt relief to distressed mortgage borrowers) and for Fed policy; and the outlook for financial markets."

Roubini still pessimistic over economy - P2


Roubini still pessimistic over economy - P3

Good analysis from a master that's spin free.

Saturday 24 May 2008

Dr. Strangelov, er Petrov, screams fire the crowded Credit Default Swap theatre.

In a one-hour and eight-minuter talk, Dr. Petrov discusses in fairly good depth, the basics of credit default swaps. Furthermore, he discusses how the system is corrupt and will collapse at any moment.

He also, at about the one-hour mark, mentions your own, loveable, Earthling Doug Noland as having warned the masses that this would happen. He also quotes Nouriel Roubini and Peter Schiff as sounding the alarm as well.

Finally, he states that junk bonds will cause the ultimate demise of the CDS market.

(One note: This talk was given recently, however, he is using an outdated number for the outstanding notional dollar amount of CDS at $45 trillion. The number is now $62 trillion and growing daily, according to the latest B.I.S. report.

All-in-all, an interesting, informative talk. (For those Earthlings with ADD, just fast-forward to the last eight minutes or so of the talk, where he gets into the juicy parts.)

Thursday 22 May 2008


Great compant great stock.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

200 years of monetary history and the end of the dollar

This this one of the reason precious metals are important investments for the little guy.

Dr. Hirsch Discusses Peak Oil on CNBC

HOST: ...Dr. Hirsch is a senior energy advisor at Management Information Services and Dr. Hirsch, thank you for joining us this morning.

HIRSCH: My pleasure.

HOST: You know, we've been talking all morning long about energy prices. Watching crude oil prices touch above $127 for the first time overnight leads a lot of people to start wondering about peak oil and the peak oil theory. You've been writing about peak oil for some time, so did you see this coming?

HIRSCH: Yes we did. Not quite the way it's turned out, but this is not a surprise.

HOST: You say, "not quite the way it's turned out". What's happened that's different from what you were predicting?

HIRSCH: Well, I wasn't particularly predicting. I'm a student of this and have focused on what we do about the problem after it really hits. Peak oil--the idea is that it would hit a sharp peak and then production in the world would hit a sharp peak then drop off. And what's happened is that we hit plateau in world oil production, and that plateau has been ongoing since about the middle of 2004.

HOST: Dr. Hirsch, there are a lot of people when we talk about peak oil who say there are going to be technologies that are always developed. There will be new ways to get oil, whether it's from coal, whether it's from the oil shales, and they say that means we will never actually hit peak oil. What do you say to those people?

HIRSCH: They're incorrect, and the reason that they're incorrect is that they don't understand the magnitude of the problem and how long it's going to take to bring substitute liquid fuels on and to introduce energy efficiency on a massive scale. That's something that we analyzed and it takes decades. And the reason, simply, is that the magnitude of the problem is enormous.

[McTeer says we should drill more.]

HOST: Dr. Hirsch, what do you say to that--the idea that we should be drilling in places like ANWR and drilling offshore. Would that solve this problem of a plateau in oil production?

HIRSCH: There's no single thing that's going to solve this problem because it's as massive as one can possibly imagine. And the prices that we're paying at the pump today I think are going to be the good old days because others who watch this very closely forecast that we are going to be hitting $12 and $15 per gallon. And then, after that, when world oil production goes into decline, we're going to talk about rationing. In other words, not only are we going to be paying high prices and have considerable economic problems, in addition to that, we're not going to be able to get the fuel when we want it.

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Jurvetson: We Can Create Life

"Within the next three years, we will create artificial lifeforms from scratch." The key breakthrough that's occurred in the last few years, he says, is our ability to treat the code of life like a computer program. In the past, we could only cut and paste from biology, but the reality today is that we can write the code of life from scratch.

Anything that does not exist naturally in the environment can be generated, Jurvetson anticipates. So far, researchers have generated viruses and changed the species of one bacteria to another by swapping out its DNA. The goal of generating a new kind of organism that has never existed is "tantalizingly close."

Jurvetson noted this leads to "great capabilities, and also great responsibilities," and that a group of ethical experts and world religious leaders generally approved of such experimentation as long as it steers clear of human life. “The moment anyone talks about mammals, it’ll be a totally different proposition.”

Saturday 10 May 2008

Friday 9 May 2008

Monday 5 May 2008

Thursday 1 May 2008

CBS News: US Prepares Iran Attack

Lies about Iran. war would mean the end of american power in the gulf.